Type of disease: Rare conditions

Cryptococcosis is a fungal infection caused specifically by the fungus cryptococcus neofromans, which is usually found in soil and bird droppings or less commonly, the fungus cryptococcus gatti, found in sub-tropical regions. An individual usually contracts this infection through the air by breathing in the spores. Cryptococcocsis is most commonly associated with HIV and with people with weakened immune systems such as Hodgkin’s disease, individuals taking high doses of corticosteroid medications or undergoing chemotherapy. However, cryptococcocsis may affect individuals with normal immune systems as well. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all, however because the fungus is typically inhaled, the lungs are most commonly infected. It is more likely to spread beyond the lungs to the brain (and cause meningitis) in individuals with weakened immune systems. Symptoms may include blurred vision, chest pain, fatigue, dry coughs, fever, headache, nausea, sweating, and skin rashes. Other symptoms include mental confusion or unintentional weight loss. Cryptococcosis can be diagnosed through blood tests, CT scans, biopsies, and samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Cryptococcocis is treated with medications including Amphotericin B, flucytosine, and fluconazole. Cryptococcosis is one of the leading causes of death in individuals living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Many efforts are being made to combat this infection. Talk with your doctor about current treatment options if you or a family member has been diagnosed with cryptococcosis

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